Spirit suffer first loss, 2-1, to Sky Blue

Robyn Gayle has her hands full with Lisa De Vanna, who would assist on the game-winning goal and give the Spirit defense fits all evening

If the Washington Spirit had a mantra going into today’s match, it might well have been “Don’t give up a late goal.” In their inaugural match on the road against Boston, they let one in in second-half stoppage time to turn a win into a draw. Then last week in their home opener they gave up a goal in the 84th minute, and only midfielder Diana Matheson converting a penalty kick shortly thereafter kept that game from being a loss.

In this match, though, they went to the other extreme for untimely goals, getting scored on 90 seconds into the first half and under three minutes into the second. An anemic Spirit offense that has so far managed just two goals from the run of play in 270 minutes was unable to keep up, and Washington fell to Sky Blue, 2-1.

The Spirit largely neutralized Kelley O'Hara, but she was far from Sky Blue's only offensive weapon

The first goal came on a textbook play as Danesha Adams sent a corner kick in from the right to the far post, where defender CoCo Goodson – at 5’11” two inches taller than anyone on the Spirit roster – ran on and headed the ball just inside the post.

Diana Matheson scored Washington's lone goal and was a force all over the field

Washington came back in the 35th minute. Stephanie Ochs collected an attempted clearance on the left and fed Lori Lindsey making an overlapping run through the back line. Lindsey drew the defense’s attention as she drove for the top left corner of the box, then fired the ball across to a streaking Matheson, who with a defender on her shoulder fired the ball into the left side netting from seven yards out.

Lori Lindsey assisted on the Matheson goal

That lead would only last about 14 minutes of game time, though, as in the 48th minute Danesha Adams sent a long ball over the top for Australian speedster Lisa De Vanna, who drove hard to the end line, drawing two defenders, then sent the ball back into the box to an oncoming Sophie Schmidt, who with Lindsey trailing a couple of yards behind had no problems putting the ball in the net.

The Spirit offense had 42 minutes in which to equalize but were unable to do so. Forward Stephanie Ochs could seldom get into position for a dangerous shot, while Tiffany McCarty had opportunities but was slow to take advantage of them. Matters looked more promising after Caroline Miller – reportedly frustrated at not cracking the starting lineup – entered for McCarty in the 71st minute and made a strong statement for herself by blocking clearances and then in the 79th minute dodging defenders to get in a cracking shot from the left that Sky Blue goalkeeper Tiffany Cameron had to make a diving, fingertip save on to redirect it outside the right post.

Ali Krieger sent in some dangerous crosses as well as playing solid defense, but it wasn't enough

Sky Blue looks to continue their winning ways on the road in Sahlen’s Stadium, Rochester, NY, in the new league’s first midweek game, Wednesday, May 1, at 7:05 pm. Meanwhile, Washington will need to regroup in time to face the formidable Portland Thorns, at the Soccerplex on Saturday, May 4, at 7 pm.

Photos courtesy of Tony Quinn

Other coverage:

The Equalizer/Jennifer Gordon & Meg Linehan: Sky Blue FC hold on to beat Spirit 2-1

SportsMyriad/Beau Dure: Washington Spirit vs. Sky Blue: Welcome back, Gabarra

The Gazette/Jennifer Beekman: Spirit miss chance at first place

Pitchside Report/Lowri Griffiths: MATCH REPORT: Sky Blue Bring Down the Spirit

Black & Red United/Cynthia Hopgood: Washington Spirit vs Sky Blue FC: Recap and Match Video – Spirit Suffer First Loss of the Season

Empire of Soccer/Dave Martinez: Sky Blue extend winning streak with 2-1 victory over Spirit

SoccerWire/Charles Boehm: NWSL: Sky Blue FC (N.J.) earn three road points with 2-1 win over Washington Spirit

DC Soccer News: EARLY LAPSES – Spirit falls to Sky Blue 2-1

Washington Spirit: Spirit suffer first loss 2-1 to visiting Sky Blue FC

Sky Blue FC: Sky Blue FC Downs Washington Spirit 2-1

3 thoughts on “Spirit suffer first loss, 2-1, to Sky Blue

  1. sec

    The Spirit’s first loss, but probably their best performance in terms of ball movement and connecting passes and solving pressure. It was actually fun to see them chase the game for the majority of the game, and I was quite impressed by the way they kept chipping away and making Sky Blue work. And Ali Krieger was absolutely immense, probably the top defensive performance of the week in the NWSL.

    However, the Spirit really need much better hold-up play, and just sharper play more generally, from McCarty. I think Miller made a clear case for herself, to start the next match. Unfortunately, Ingrid Wells’ confidence seems to be flagging. I don’t think outside mid is her position. It will be really interesting to see how the Spirit coaching staff tinker with the line-ups over the coming weeks. Having seen all the teams play, I am far less pessimistic about the Spirit than I was at the outset.

  2. cow pasture alum

    I watched this match on my iPhone. I didn’t catch the names of the two people calling the match. Can anyone fill me in? Thanks.

    1. Kevin Parker Post author

      Michael Minnich did the play-by-play and Danielle Malagari did the color commentary. I’ve been impressed by both of them so far.


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